Belcher changes plans, will take on Akiyama at UFC 100
Belcher had previously made a verbal agreement to face
Akiyama has verbally agreed to the bout, although it's unclear whether he's signed his paperwork.
In an earlier conversation with MMAWeekly.com, Belcher said a win over the controversial Japanese star would put him in the top ten of the middleweight division.
"(The UFC) said Alessio Sakara. I said cool. He said cool," relayed Belcher. "But I think it makes better sense for me to fight a couple other people. The UFC signed Akiyama and that seems like a pretty good fight, something that will move me ahead.
"I'm gonna physically be a lot bigger than him, I think. Especially when he gets off all that damn juice. He's all bloated up."
That said, Belcher doesn't think the fight will be easy.
"He's a well-rounded, tough-ass dude," he continued. "That's the kind of fights I want to fight. I want to fight the best guys. I still have work to do."
Belcher's last appearance was a step in the right direction, an upset victory over the highly touted
Akiyama's last appearance was in the final round of Dream's Middleweight Grand Prix, where he defeated
Biloxi, Mississippi, resident Belcher hopes to spoil Akiyama's debut with his formidable muay Thai skills.
"I can promise you in my next fight I'm definitely going to hit the guy hard," said Belcher. "I don't want to leave the fight thinking that I didn't try and knock him out. I want a knockout bad. I think I can knock everybody out in the UFC."